History

April 1984

TechServ’s sibling organization, DUsers (Drexel computer Users), was founded. DUsers was an Apple Macintosh users’ group founded with the goal of providing a forum for interaction between students interested in computing – particularly the Apple Macintosh (even before it was released to the public). DUsers is widely acknowledged as the first Macintosh users group and as the first computer related student organization at Drexel University. A documentary regarding DUsers and the Computing at Drexel program is mentioned here. As noted below, in the fall of 2004, DUsers was officially disbanded, with all its remaining assets turned over to TechServ. It is this fact that causes TechServ to maintain our website URL and regard DUsers as a sibling (if not, parent) organization.

March 2002

Marc Blumberg receives a call from Amy Galabinski asking if he would like to start a student organization. Marc agrees, hoping that Amy would go out with him. That never happened. Regardless, TechServ was formed and, in April 2002, became a recognized student organization at Drexel University. Amy Galabinski acted as President and Marc Blumberg as Treasurer.

September 2002

Zenko Klapko came to the first meeting of the Fall term and was granted the position of Secretary. William Morgan also made his first appearance that night. Several other students were in attendance and meeting minutes were taken.

October 2002

Refurbishment meetings were held in the basement of CAT, room 075, sharing the space with a robotics lab. With donations from Drexel’s Armory and others, the space soon became cramped.

November 2002

Amy finishes refurbishing a computer and makes the first donation to an elderly woman.

January 2003

With much regret, the Professor of the robotics lab evicts TechServ’s refurbishment center. Amy, with the help of Paula King, secured an office in MacAlister Hall, room 3013, and a refurbishment center in the basement, room 0020.

…Several years undocumented, during which:

  • TechServ moves out of the office and into 0020 exclusively.
  • Fall 2004: DUsers ceases to exist, and TechServ takes over the last of their assets, including DNS names.
  • TechServ acquires a Dell PowerEdge 2600 server as a donation from the USGA, with the condition that it is used to host websites for other student organizations. It replaces the old ANS and runs Gentoo.
  • Zenko is elected President.

2005-2007

Jon Max-Sohmer is elected President, replacing former President Zenko B. Klapko. David Korth joined in Fall 2006 and was soon chosen as a SysAdmin for his incredible knowledge of Linux based systems. TechServ makes several donations, including one to Rhoads Elementary School and another to Powel Elementary. A large donation of Pentium 4 computers is received from UPenn SEAS, courtesy of VP Gordon Dexter’s boss. Member Smokey donates 4 heavy-duty chrome shelving units, which make for more space, and some attempts were made to rearrange the room for better efficiency.

Fall 2007

One of our Sun 280R servers, named “midna”, is set up as a PXE network boot server. This allows us to set up systems more quickly, since instead of burning tons of CDs, we can just connect systems to the network and select “Network Boot”, and then select DBAN to wipe the hard disks or Ubuntu Install to install Ubuntu. It’s also faster to load files from the network (up to 12.5 MB/s on Fast Ethernet) than it is to read from CD (up to 7.2 MB/s on outer tracks). This helps to move TechServ’s refurbishment process into high gear.

Spring 2008

Gordon is elected President; Jon became VP. Obtained a tool chest, reorganized the room several times to little effect, and managed to acquire a huge and almost-perfectly-working Lexmark C912 printers. 10 dual PIII computers are donated to a community center. The first TechServ Smash Bros. Brawl tournament is held, with great success.

Midna is decommissioned (and later donated) due to its extremely loud fans. The PXE network boot functionality was moved to hellfire.

Summer 2008

Our aging Dell PowerEdge 2600 server that was serving as hellfire was replaced with a brand new custom-built server with a 2 TB RAID-5 array, 8 GB RAM, and 8 CPU cores. 2 terabytes should be enough for anybody. Unless we start mirroring Ubuntu, which should happen this Fall.

Fall 2008

Dan Shick is elected treasurer. A donation of historical computers (including some SGI MIPS systems) is made to the MESS project. A change to the constitution is proposed, in which we decrease the role of education and officially acknowledge our support of FOSS (free/open-source software). Gordon rediscovers this history file and attempts to update it, and fill in blank spaces from memory.

A local Ubuntu mirror was set up, but hasn’t been registered with the Ubuntu mirror listing. Meanwhile, we set up an automatic Ubuntu installation script, which runs off of the PXE network installation system and automatically sets our default options. The only thing that needs to be specified manually is the TechServ computer number.

Winter 2009

The second TechServ Smash Bros. Brawl tournament is held, with similar success to the first tournament.

Spring 2009

Jawadali Ahmed is elected President, and David Korth is elected Vice President.

Summer 2009

TechServ reserves a table at New Student Orientation, an event where incoming freshmen get a chance to see all the student organizations at Drexel. Our table has a demo computer running Linux, as well as a Wii running Super Smash Bros. Brawl on a projector.

Fall 2009

Thanks in part to our improved advertising campaign (including New Student Orientation), TechServ has started having much larger turnouts than in previous terms. We also had a table at the CCE’s “Live It, Give It” fair, where outside organizations got to see what was offered in terms of services. After this event, we received many more donation requests, some of which are still in progress. Additionally, we held an Ubuntu 9.10 launch party on October 31 with moderate success.

Spring 2010

TechServ held many student events, including a “Jeopardy! Night”, an Ubuntu 10.04 release party / workshop, and our third video game tournament. This time, we had more than Smash Bros. for the tournament; we had a “Smash through the Ages” tournament (all three games), an FPS tournament (Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), and retro games, featuring Super NES and Sega Dreamcast.

Summer 2010

Similar to last year, TechServ reserved a table at New Student Orientation. This time, NSO was moved to the new Recreation Center. (Previously, it was held in Buckley Field.) Like last time, we had a projector and Wii running Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

The Lexmark C912 we acquired unfortunately failed while in use due to a malfunctioning duplexing unit. We found another one that was on sale locally for a rock-bottom price, so we picked it up. We now have color printing again.

The entire room has been rearranged to be more efficient. Instead of having workbenches in the front and back of the room, they’re both located on the left side. The filing cabinets and Lexmark C912 printer are located on the far-left of the room, right next to the secondary workbench. Hellfire (our server) and Impa (our primary workstation) are now located right next to the main door. The right side of the room is now used for computer and cart storage.

Fall 2010

This term, we held our first series of TechServ workshops (TECH-101), which covered topics such as the basics of computer hardware, installing an operating system, and how to figure out what parts to buy when building a computer.

Several new members joined TechServ at the start of the academic year. Among them, Stephen Weber was selected as the new Head of Special Projects. We also started working on a new WordPress-based website to replace the old CMSMS-based site.

Near the end of the term, we received a whopping 61-computer donation from the LeBow College of Business. Thanks to our room rearrangement efforts, we were able to store all 61 of these computers in our new storage area.

Winter 2011

TechServ held its first-ever TechServ Seminar, which was an all-day event covering multiple topics.

Spring 2011

TechServ held a Jeopardy! event during Welcome Back Week.

We purchased two new vinyl banners: one to replace the old paper TechServ banner on the large cart, and another to use as a table banner at events. The large table banner has several photos of donations and the TECH-101 workshop series from Fall 2010 term.

  • Julian Kemmerer elected President.
  • Garth Frantzen elected Treasurer.
  • Reuben Krutz elected Vice President.
  • Dias Gotama elected Secretary.
  • Chris Flounders elected Head of Donations.
  • Andrew Sauber elected Head of Refurbishment.
  • Stephen Weber elected Head of Special Projects.
  • David Korth, Mark Chua, and Pavan Kantharaju are System Administrators.

 

Summer 2011

A relatively inactive term regarding outgoing donations. However, the TechServ room experienced it’s third (known) room rearrangement and continued sorting out the huge donation from the College of Medicine.

Fall 2011

Finished rearranging and organizing the room. Many UNIV-101 students this term. 3-4 outgoing donations. Made an additional effort to be recognized within the University. Had dinner with faculty from the College of Medicine – gained valuable long term contacts and were able to get the hard drives we were owed.

Winter 2012

A very active term in regards to outgoing donations. Joshua Hutchins was elected as Head of Public Relations and is working vigorously to improve TechServ’s public facing image and campus presence. TechServ partnered with the Library for the first recorded time in organizing our ‘Google-Fu’ workshop. Although the workshop was not a spectacular success it opened the door for further cooperation with the Library – specifically in regards to the Learning Terrace and Library as locations for future events. TechServ begins to run low on quickly fixable systems, mice, keyboards, and power cables due to the massive number of outgoing donations.

Spring 2012

Another very active term: TechServ held its first ever ‘Community Genius Bar’ in collaboration with the University Libraries and College of Engineering. The event served as a free-of-charge technical diagnosis and advice-giving session. Over 20 members of the public attended the event with a large number having heard about it through our publicity on KYW1060 and their website.

TechServ continued to improve their public facing image as a large effort was put towards advertising and member recruitment. TechServ also held a booth at the Philadelphia Science Festival with a great deal of positive feedback from attendees. Due to scheduling conflicts Greg Woods was selected as Head of Refurbishment in place of Andrew Sauber.

A large LAN Party was held with help from DragonLAN (another student organization), and the University Libraries – this is event was and will likely continue to be one of our most popular each year.

The number of outgoing donations continues at a staggering pace as in previous terms however, we are beginning to prepare for our Summer term where most incoming donations and room reorganizing take place. Our office system IMPA, which had been replaced only months before, died – we are making a final move to a new system. TechServ has been awarded office space! After moving out of office space between 2003 and 2005 and now in desperate need of additional space TechServ will re-expand back into a separate office for Hellfire and the new IMPA (name to be determined) leaving only a small system in the room to take care of PXE (Navi).

Summer 2012

A fairly busy term in regards to outgoing donations. The only significant event held was a very informative SysAdmin training session run by David Korth. Due to the skyrocketing outgoing donation numbers, TechServ was left with 10-20 usable systems and no scheduled incoming donations. IMPA has yet to be replaced due to complications with an ordered power supply and a third system dying. TechServ has yet to expand into the newly awarded office space in Creese 0048F. Julian was interviewed by the College of Engineering, strengthening our relationship with the college. The constitution was revised and the election results for the 2012-2013 academic year were as follows:

  • Julian Kemmerer elected President.
  • Garth Frantzen elected Treasurer.
  • Dias Gotama elected Vice President.
  • Ian Neisser elected Secretary.
  • Chris Flounders elected Head of Donations.
  • Greg Woods elected Head of Refurbishment.
  • Stephen Weber elected Head of Special Projects.
  • David Korth, Mark Chua, and Pavan Kantharaju are System Administrators.

 

Fall 2012

A busy early term with dwindling inventory and subsequently inactive meetings towards the end. In the words of the Head of Donations, Chris Flounders:

“2012 – a year for the record books. With the establishment of the wiki, the implementation of the new receipt handling process, and the expansion into our new office we have certainly streamlined our whole process. Our donation numbers underline the success of these modifications. We donated an amazing 230 systems this year, almost three times as much as last year. Although we didn’t quite reach the forecasts, which estimated us quadrupling our 2011 output, we came darn close.”

In regards to events, we held a very successful Video Game Night again in collaboration with DragonLAN in the Library Learning Terrace. The Library continues to be 1) a source of donations and 2) very helpful in terms of housing events. As mentioned, we also moved into the new office this term. The office houses many of our antique systems as well as our servers – freeing up a good deal of space in the workshop. We picked up a metal bookshelf that was being disposed of and are now using it for laptop storage. We also held the second SysAdmin training session – PXE and WebServ are now significantly documented on the wiki. We also held our second ever Community Genius Bar with similar attendance as the first. However, the People’s Emergency Center graciously allowed us use of one of their multi-purpose rooms. The room functioned well and we had additional aid from students involved there – ‘Digital Connectors’. Also, the Summer 2012 interview with the College of Engineer was finally published.

Winter 2013

A moderately busy term with significantly lower inventory counts. We held a low-key video game / movie night for just TechServ members with no other significant events. This is likely due to the several events we already have planned for the Spring term. A new partnership with IRT seems promising as they already have programs that parallel TechServ in terms of overall goals and refurbishing activities. We were made aware of Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships: in short, the new center will be an extension of the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement but most importantly has a mission statement goal of “Digital access”. A press release stated, “computers will be available at the Dornsife Center, providing digital access in a community where fewer than half of the residents have computers in their homes”. TechServ should make it a goal to become involved with this new center.

Towards the end of the term we had a wonderful video chat with previous Secretary and President Zenko Klapko. In a show of extreme generosity he purchased a nearly absurd amount of pizza for the TechServ meeting – many thanks to him. We hope this continues as a tradition for officers as they graduate and occasionally check back in with TechServ. His words in closing, “…Most importantly, thank you for continuing to bridge the digital divide. There will always be a gap, whether it’s income, knowledge, or data access disparities. This is meant to encourage, to make sure that success is measured in the lives that were touched through your outreach efforts. This is important work and you are making a difference.”

Spring 2013

A relatively slow term – at one point reaching only a handful of usable systems in the workshop. TechServ attended several Accepted Students Fairs with low signup numbers. TechServ once again participated in the Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival having a wonderfully successful two-table booth and attracting many members of the public. Another Community Genius Bar was held (as part of PSF and Philly Tech Week) with similar turn out as previous ones – many thanks to PEC for allowing us use of their space. An end of term dinner/fundraiser was organized with a great turnout. A large ~35 system donation came in right as the term ended giving us plenty of work to tackle during the summer term. Election results for the 2013-2014 academic year were as follows:

  • Julian Kemmerer elected President.
  • Garth Frantzen elected Treasurer.
  • Matthew Bodofsky elected Vice President.
  • Rebecca Cargan elected Secretary.
  • Pavan Kantharaju elected Head of Donations.
  • Greg Woods elected Head of Refurbishment.
  • Stephen Weber elected Head of Special Projects.
  • Joanne Wong elected Head of Public Relations.
  • David Korth, Mark Chua, and Pavan Kantharaju are System Administrators.

Summer 2013

A great term for incoming donations with slow progress being made on outgoing donations – we are very well prepared for an active Fall term. Part of this increase in incoming donations was the cooperation had with University Facilities during the annual University Wide Cleanout event. We are now a step closer to being the end destination for all computers disposed of within the University. With regards to our own computer disposal needs: towards the end of this term a big push for e-waste disposal was made in an attempt to clear workshop space – especially for crowded UNIV-101 student meetings in the Fall. Events wise, TechServ, for the first time in recorded history, attended a conference as an official event. FOSSCON 2013 (Free Open Source Software Conference) was held in Philadelphia and had several wonderful speakers enjoyed by all members.

 

Fall 2013

Several outgoing donations this term, some larger incoming donations should provide for a busy Winter term. A very nice Wii-hacking event called Wiitoberfest at the start of the term was run by alumni member Dave Korth. For the first time TechServ was called to run a Community Genius Bar event. The event was on par with success of previous Community Genius Bars and hopefully marks a growing knowledge of TechServ within the Philadelphia community. TechServ successfully ordered t-shirts without using SAFAC funds – this will likely become a yearly event. The term ended with a successful Super Smash Bros. gaming and documentary night.

 

Winter 2014

A few outgoing donations this term, with a large ~45 system, ~25 monitor incoming donation as the term closed. This should leave us well prepared for a very productive Spring quarter. Our server, Hellfire, had it’s hard drives replaced which should give us at least another few years of great data redundancy and performance for our members and clients. We collaborated with DragonLAN for a successful second-time-ever LAN Party in the large Behrakis Grand Hall. Vice President, Matt Bodofsky, held an informative and well received Phone Jailbreaking/Rooting event. This term saw several donations from Drexel Facilities: we are coming ever closer to our goal of being the end destination for all computers disposed of at Drexel University. A Community Genius Bar at the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) had to be rescheduled. However, the rescheduled event saw a great turn out, on par, if not more than any previous Community Genius Bar event. For the first time, the end of term TechServ dinner was held off campus in King of Prussia. Kicked off with a field trip to Microcenter and followed by a few hours of mall exploration, the actual dinner was moved to the mall food court for convenience and due to the lack of large-party reservations available at formal restaurants. Finally, Head of Fundraising (an interim position), Ian Neisser (and partner Austin Lepri) completed their term-long TechServ documentary – a wonderful example of documentary film making. We hope to have this documentary available for online viewing shortly as it is a fantastic look into TechServ as a whole.

Spring 2014

This term was quite a busy one. However, outgoing donations were slow moving this term. Additionally, continuing cooperation from University Facilities proved very beneficial in terms of frequent incoming donations. This gives us us an increasing surplus of desktops which can be difficult to work around (literally). However, this only leave more flexibility for some fantastic outgoing donations during the coming Summer term. In terms of events, we started off with our Philly Tech Week Community Genius Bar at HELP Philadelphia’s Eastwick Avenue location . The following weekend held a PXE/SysAdmin training session with the help of long time friends over at NTR. NTR agreed to house the training as we would be aiding them in setting up their own PXE server. Follow that was our yearly venture to the Philadelphia Science Festival. We had a crowded and popular booth similar to the last few years – a fun time for everyone involved. The weekend after the Festival held yet another Community Genius Bar. This event was advertized at the Science Festival and was held at Drexel’s Library Learning Terrace – a place we had not been since the very first Community Genius Bar! The following week had another cooperative event gaming event with DragonLAN – a great event as always.  Ending the term was the ‘End of Term Party’ at Julian’s house where many graduating members were given a proper sendoff into the  - real world. A very fun event for everyone involved. 

Election results for the 2014-2015 academic year were as follows:

  • Rebecca Cargan elected President.
  • Garth Frantzen elected Treasurer.
  • Stephen Weber elected Vice President.
  • Betsy Morgan elected Head of Incoming Donations.
  • Mark Chua elected Head of Outgoing Donations.
  • Eric Rock elected Head of Refurbishment.
  • Stephen Weber elected Head of Special Projects.
  • Joanne Wong elected Head of Public Relations.
  • Brian Bijeau elected Head of Fundraising.
  • David Korth, Mark Chua, and Chris Travis are System Administrators.

Bridging The Digital Divide